January 17, 2018

Clearing Out My "To-Read" List

One thing I really like about Goodreads is that it allows me to keep track of all the books I want to read. I see a review on a friends' blog, or hear about a great book that I don't want to miss, and all I have to do is find it on Goodreads, mark it as "to read," then go on my merry way. When I'm next looking for a book, I have this ready-made list waiting expectantly to choose from. It's nice.

However, it can get overwhelming, as the books keep getting added much more quickly than they are taken off. To help myself cope with "potential reading list overwhelm," I make it a point to go through the list every so often, subtracting as I see fit.

One of the most helpful things I have done, though, is declaring my time limit for reading books on that list to be 3 years. I figure, if I haven't gotten to it in 3 years, it's time to move on. To that end, at the the start of a new year, I take a good hard look at any books that have been on my list for 3 years. I look them all up one last time and make a decision--am I going to purchase this, is it at the library to read, or am I just going to say goodbye?

I've only got 8 to decide on this time around, out of 107 total. Hey, I'm feeling pretty good about that, actually.

Here's the rundown for this year:

1. Fire in the Bones: William Tyndale--Martyr, Father of the English Bible, by S. Michael Wilcox

Available at the library? Yes! What do you know? Our library here actually has this one! Woohoo! I will look for it next time I go. Off the list!

2. You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life, by Eleanor Roosevelt

I am happy to report that I read this one recently! It came up as a cheap ebook and I snapped it up. Yay! Review coming soon. (And off it goes.)

3. Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World, by Sy Montgomery

Available at the library? No, though the movie starring Claire Danes is there. Hmm...may have to watch that sometime.
Amazon price: $9.99 (Kindle), $8.40 (paperback)

You know what? I'm just going to buy it. I have really enjoyed other books I've read by Sy Montgomery, and I'm still very interested in learning more about Grandin. 

4. The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough

I actually own a copy of this one, given to me by my brother a couple of years ago. (Thanks Alan!) It's one that I ought to have read in my sweeping "read my own bookshelf" goal this year, but alas, did not. I still want to, though!

At this point, it will have to wait until we get back into our house, since all of our books are...somewhere in a box right now being de-smoked. It is definitely still on my radar and it's not like I need it on there to remember exact title/author or anything. I own my own copy. Off the list!

5. The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain, as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery, by Sam Kean

Available at the library? No, darn it!
Amazon price: $11.99 (Kindle), $9.80 (paperback)

Hmmm....this is one I still want to read, but I don't want to own it. At least, I would like to read it first before I decide if I want to own it or not. Reluctantly off the list. On the other hand, it has been 3 years now. I'll survive without it.

6. An Ember in the Ashes (Ember in the Ashes #1), by Sabaa Tahir

Available at the library? Why yes, actually. Our library has the first 2. Book 3 is out, but not book 4 just yet.

This one comes highly reviewed by many of my friends on Goodreads. I am put off, though, that the last book isn't out yet. I'm going to take this one off my list for now. When #4 comes out and the series is complete, I'll revisit whether or not I want to read it.

7. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande

Available at the library: No. Why doesn't my library have this one?! It was Best Book of the Year in many prominent publications.
Amazon price: $9.99 (Kindle), $9.35 (paperback)

Okay, I'm going to go ahead and buy this one. Partly because I think my husband will want to read it, too. If I don't want to keep it when I'm done, I'll donate it to my library.

8. The Wolf Wilder, by Katherine Rundell

Available at the library: No.
Amazon Price: $6.99 (Kindle), $6.28 (paperback)

To buy or not to buy, that is the question. [After reading several more reviews...] I am going to pass on this one. Most people loved it or hated it. The ones in the middle had some very valid-sounding issues with it that make me not to want to spend my time or money on it right now. If our library does purchase it at some point I will probably pick it up. Until then...

* * * * *
All right, done with that chore for the year! Feels good, I tell you. This little exercise has brought my "to read" list under 100 items for the time in recent memory. That's a victory, right there.

For those of you on Goodreads, how do you keep your "to read" list manageable? Or do you?


  1. This is so funny, because my philosophy on this matter is so different from yours. I'm ruthless when it comes to the number of physical books I allow in our house and on my shelves. But my Goodreads to-read list? It's digital! It takes up no space! Who cares how long it gets? I've never once considered it a needful thing to clean off my to-read list, even though there are 400+ books on there (and growing every day), some that have been languishing for years and that I'll likely never read. Although, I will say that now that I've read your post, I kind of like the idea of a good list clean-up that would make it easier to identify the books I actually want to read. Maybe a summer project for me?

    1. That is funny! To me, having all those books on my "to-read" list feels like a commitment that I never quite fulfill. I like it, because I like having a whole list of ideas, but sometimes it adds stress to my life. For no reason! Clearing it out periodically is all about the mental space. :)